Just One Year Ago

Shared by Bhikkhu Bodhi


Last year in September, after my annual Abhidharma retreat, I traveled with Henry and Pohui to Arizona. We intended to visit the Grand Canyon, which I had never seen. Our plane took us to Phoenix. Henry rented a car and we drove first to Sedona, famous for its vortexes, hills that are believed to be centers of spiritual energy. The day we arrived was a full-moon day. When we settled into our rest house, we learned that a hilltop festival was to be held that evening on one of the vortex hills. We decided to go.

 When we arrived, we climbed the hill and found that a large group of people had assembled to celebrate the beautiful autumn full moon. Some were playing various instruments, some were dancing, and others were just sitting and enjoying the scene. We sat down on one of the ground cloths, and a woman handed Henry a small drum and me a chime. We both started to play and Pohui took pictures. One picture, which I uploaded in the photo gallery here, shows Henry playing the drum, with a big smile of delight on his face, and me playing the chime.  

This morning I looked at this photo and noticed the date and time: the photo is dated 09/16/2016 and the time it was taken is 10 pm. Since Arizona is three hours behind New York, this would have been Sept. 17th, 2016, at 1 am. It was exactly on this date and time, one year later, that Henry breathed his last: Sept. 17th, 2017, at around 1 am.  

During this trip Henry looked so healthy, vigorous, and happy that one would scarcely have imagined that just a year later he would leave us. The other photo I posted from this trip, at the Grand Canyon, shows Henry and I laughing about some matter now forgotten, and his jovial spirit is evident from the big smile on his face.  

Henry was a wonderful man with a beautiful personality: always kind, friendly, compassionate, and humorous. A devoted Buddhist, he contributed greatly to the development of BAUS (Buddhist Association of the United States) and its seat, Chuang Yen Monastery. He helped many of the Americans who came to the monastery to feel welcome and at ease.  

May he pass on to a fortunate rebirth, quickly encounter the Buddha Dharma, and progress steadily along the path to the fulfillment of his heart’s ideal.  

May all blessings, too, be with his family–his wife Pohui and son Benjamin, both of whom he loved deeply.


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